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Iran Seizes Two British Tankers in As Many Hours

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Iran seized two British tankers on Friday in an incident that has escalated tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

The Stena Impero, a British-owned tanker that flies a British flag, was seized and remained in Iranian hands as of Friday.

Another British-owned tanker, the Mesdar, which was flying a Liberian flag, was also seized. The Mesdar was later allowed to resume its journey, the BBC reported.

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“We are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

“We are not looking at military options. We are looking at a diplomatic way to resolve this situation but we are very clear that it must be resolved,” he said.

“These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region, he said, according to CNN.

Other British officials were also outraged:

President Donald Trump said Iran’s actions underscore the need for tough foreign policy.

“(T)his only goes to show what I’m saying about Iran: trouble. Nothing but trouble,” Trump said, according to a White House media pool report.

“Iran is showing their colors,” he added.

The Stena Impero, a ship with a crew of 23, was surrounded by gunboats on Friday and forced to sail to Iran, which claimed the ship violated Iranian regulations. The owners said in a statement that the ship “was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters.”

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Britain seized a Syria-bound Iranian tanker on July 4. The tanker is still in British custody, The Guardian reported.

Oil prices rose after news of the seizures reached world markets.

CNN reported that after the two seizures, the U.S. military was monitoring the passage of a U.S. cargo ship through the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump said he would consult with Britain on any response to the incident, noting that the U.S. had a minimal commercial presence in the region, but extensive military assets.

“Well, as you know, we have a very close alliance with the UK, and we always have,” Trump said.

“The United States has very few tankers going in because we’re using our own energy now. We’ve made a lot of progress over the last two and half years. So we don’t have very many tankers going in, but we have a lot of ships there that are war ships. And we’ll talk to the UK. … They’ve been a very great ally of ours,” Trump said.

Trump touched on the nuclear deal that former President Barack Obama reached with Iran, a deal that Trump has since withdrawn from.

Do you think America should go to war with Iran?

“And remember this: The agreement — the ridiculous agreement made by President Obama — expires in a very short period of time. It was a short-term agreement. When you’re dealing in countries, you have to deal in 50 years and 100 years. You don’t deal in the short term. That was a ridiculous agreement. And it goes to show you I was right about Iran. And let’s see what happens,” the president said.

Trump characterized Iran as a nation in desperation.

“Iran is in big trouble right now. Their economy is crashing. It’s coming to a crash. They’re trying to bring soldiers back home because they can’t pay them. A lot of bad things are happening to them. And it’s very easy to straighten out or it’s very easy for us to make it a lot worse,” he said.

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